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Real Humans of Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2022

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Isabella Siggia Chapira, Duke Fuqua Class of 2022

Age: 28
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Instituto Militar de Engenharia, Bachelor in Electronic Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8 years, Brazilian Army (Military)

Why business school? Why now?
Over the past 8 years, I had the opportunity to live many challenging and unique experiences in the Brazilian Army. However, I realized that I wanted to keep growing and making an impact outside of the military. Business school is the best place for me to translate all my military knowledge to pivot to an impactful career in the healthcare sector. So, coming back to school for an MBA was just a perfect fit for what I needed. The COVID situation exposed the necessity of efficient and robust healthcare systems worldwide, so I believe that now is the best moment to invest in my education to become a future leader in the healthcare sector.

Why Fuqua? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I took the audacious attitude of applying just for Fuqua, so it is clear that I completely love the school. I have three main reasons for why Fuqua. First, I want to pivot my career to the healthcare sector, and Fuqua has the best Health Sector Management Program and provides a broad and reliable network among the industry. Second, I felt an instantaneous fit with Fuqua’s culture and values (Team Fuqua) and had a genuine connection with alumni and students I talked to. Finally, my husband is also a student at Fuqua, so we are going as a couple.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
My experience over the last 8 years in the Army taught me a lot about the power of resilience and commitment. I think that my years working in such a male-dominant environment made me strong as a woman. I want to translate my experiences as a Latin American veteran woman to the business world to contribute to my class with different perspectives.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
My latest fun fact is the adventure to get my US visa. My husband, some friends, and I had to travel to Guayaquil (Ecuador) to get our visas due to Brazil’s COVID situation. We had many disadvantages during our stay in Guayaquil, like eating poison food, water problems in our Airbnb, and even a volcanic eruption near the city that made our apartment full of ashes. To finalize this great adventure, our flight to the USA had a delay because of mechanical problems.

Long story short: in the end, everything went well, and we got our visas.

Post-MBA career interests?
Healthcare, technology, and consulting.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
 –One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I dedicated a lot of time to doing an auto-reflection about myself, my values, where I am today, what I want to achieve, and why I want those things. This deep understanding of myself helped me a lot with my essays, but more than that helped me reflect on essential things about my past, present, and future. For me, this was the first achievement of my MBA, even before I got accepted to start it.

 –One thing you would change or do differently?
I would have applied earlier. I took a lot of time to have the courage to leave my stable life in the Army to achieve this dream of getting my MBA. I applied in the last round, and just for Fuqua, which caused me stress and uncertainty. Regardless of what’s coming next, I already feel successful and proud of myself.

 –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I wouldn’t skip any part of my application since the GRE to my interview was extremely important for my development and growth. However, if I had to choose the one that I less liked, I would say that I would skip the GRE.

What is your initial impression of Fuqua’s students/culture/community?
The best possible, given the virtual conditions we are living today. After my first month in Fuqua, I can say that I’ve confirmed all the beliefs I had about the school, that made me passionate about it. The spirit of collaboration in Fuqua is real for all school students, which we call “Team Fuqua.” In such difficult times that we live, having a strong network that supports you inside and outside of the business world is essential and showed me that I made the right decision.

One thing you have learned about Fuqua that has surprised you?
I was already expecting great classes, but Fuqua’s preparation for the hybrid model has exceeded my expectations far above. All the professors and staff genuinely are giving their best to pass this challenging worldwide situation without prejudicing our classes and in-class experiences. Things are indeed different now, and probably will never be the same again. Still, Duke/Fuqua had surprised me positively, showing how this can work it well, even when the situation is not favorable.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
What makes me more anxious so far is the recruiting Part. As a total career changer, I am concerned about getting my dream internship and being successful. However, all the Fuqua’s alumni and current students that I talked so far told me to “trust in the process” and made me feel more confident about it.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
It isn’t easy to choose just one thing that I am excited about because I am sincerely happy about everything. However, doing this challenging task and choosing only one, I would say that what excites me the most are the diverse and brilliant people I am about to connect during my years in Fuqua and the alumni network. I look forward to making meaningful relationships with people from all over the world.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.